Government planning to open education and legal services to foreign players

Government planning to open education and legal services to foreign players

In an attempt to boost the country’s services sector, the Government is reportedly planning to open its education and legal services to foreigners, in a calibrated manner.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia was quoted as explaining the move, saying that in a country like India, “this (the liberalization of the services sector) is to be slow and should have a calibrated approach ...It is at a very early stage. A road map has been prepared.”

“Indira Gandhi National Open University is doing something. Some professional bodies are also offering online courses. So, when we have such reputed technical institutions, more online courses can make the training they offer accessible to other countries. So, this could be one step,” she further explained.

The opening of legal services to foreign players would be a reciprocal initiative, in a calibrated manner, with the Commerce Ministry working in consonance with the Bar Council of India. The current blueprint in this regard incorporates the need to first permit “multi-professional firms to come in and to allow them to increase size of the firms”.

The Government had also started discussions with the Society for Indian Law Firms (SILF), a representative body of corporate law firms. An industry expert was further quoted as saying that the issue to open areas such as advisory, consultation and drafting of agreements for foreigners in domestic legal services sector is under discussion but these are sensitive matters and may take a long time to implement.

It was reported earlier this month that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is working on a proposal that would permit foreign legal firms to operate in India through a proprietary concern and only for non-litigious and arbitration services. You may read the LiveLaw story here.

Eminent jurist and parliamentarian, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, in an exclusive interview to LiveLaw, had also opined that the time is ripe to try Phase One of foreign law firms under “controlled conditions”. You may read the Interview here.